PARIS, FRANCE. - Following the success of last year’s auction, A Cabinet of Curiosities, which totaled more than one million Euro and established twelve world records, Christie’s will present another auction dedicated to Natural History next April in Paris. Approximately 150 exceptional examples, including dinosaurs, fossils, meteors and minerals will be offered. Objects from 450 million years ago to the present day, will include a section dedicated to dinosaurs, led by a Triceratops skeleton.
DINOSAURS - First appearing over 220 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth and dominated the animal kingdom for over 160 million years before suddenly disappearing into extinction. The terrible reptiles of the Mesozoic Period, which existed for 150 million years, attract, scare and fascinate because of their diversity of shape and dimensions, as revealed by their bone structures. As a result, the bones of the Triceratops (end of Cretaceous period – between 65 and 67 million years ago), are expected to highlight the auction. Its four-legged body is 7.5 meters long and bears a large bony frill and three horns. Immortalized in Steven Spielberg’s film «Jurassic Park, this Triceratops is the first dinosaur specimen of this quality to appear at public sale since the incredible T. REX called SUE, which was sold in New-York on the 4th October 1997. As this Triceratops does not yet have a name, the future owner will have the honor of naming this specimen. The Triceratops will be on public view at Christie’s Paris from March 5th 2008. The Dinosaur section of the sale will also offer a Tiranosaurus’s egg mineralized in agate (estimate: ˆ20,000-25,000); a Plesiosaurus marine reptile tooth in opal from 110 million years ago, thought to have come from Australia; and an Apatosaurus dinosaur tibia, 2 meters high, from the Jurassic Period (150 million years ago) which is expected to realise ˆ25,000-30,000.
VERTEBRATES - A further highlight of the auction is an impressive selection of fossilized bones. A saber-toothed tiger cranium (Homotherium crenatidiens) dating to the Miocene Period, Pliocene, carries an estimate of ˆ35,000-45,000, and a bear cranium of the Pleistocene Superior period (-128.000 to -10.000 years ago) is expected to realise ˆ3,500-4,500.
FOSSILS - «Fossils hold the full meaning of creation, destruction and the cycle of rebirth. For me, fossils incorporate the mystery, the strength and the indestructibility of life. » André Breton.
Fossils were popular amongst the European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was during this time that many Collections were assembled; the auction will offer three important Collections of fossils. The first is a French Collection which includes impressive, rare and monumental pieces of extraordinary quality. A plate of fossilized fish from 50 million of years ago stands more than 2 meters high, regrouping a giant aquarium fixed in stone (estimate: ˆ45,000-55,000) while another mural, also 2 meters high, is composed of giant prehistoric Saint-Jacques shells (estimate: ˆ25,000-35,000).
The second collection presents objects of historical interest including 30 fish fossils from Monte Bolca in Italy. Many leading museums throughout the world show fossil specimens from Monte Bolca, including The Carneigie Museum in the USA, The British Museum of London, Le Museum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, The Paleontological Museum in Moscow, and The Bayerische Staatsaammlung für palaontologie in Münich. The most important objects of this collection are a sailfish (exellia velivifer) (estimate: ˆ100,000-120,000), and a sea pike « ductor » (estimate: ˆ90,000-100,000).
The third collection is the one of a private German museum that brings together different pieces of monumental and scientific interest including the cranium of an Edmontosaurus, a duck-beaked dinosaur which could measure up to 13 meters in length. The cranium is in a very well-conserved condition, measures 1.14 meters and is estimated at ˆ70,000-80,000. A very big marine reptile of the Ichthyosaurus species, called Stenopterygius, or lizard-fish, is estimated to realise ˆ45.000-50.000.
Among natural curiosities, it is important to notice in this collection the presence of native gold on quartz, called « gold griffin ». The crystallized gold is much rarer than gold nugget and carries an estimate of ˆ8,500-9,500.
MINERALS - It is not possible to describe the planet in all its dynamism without mineralogy. The most sought after examples include banded agate in which it is possible to identify the representation of a character or of an animal, such as an agate that realised ˆ57,600 - 40 times its pre-sale estimate, at Christie’s Paris in April 2007. This auction will offer several beautiful mineral specimens, accurately chosen and selected for this sale.
The selection on offer includes six Condor agates, including a unique pinkish agate resulting from manganese oxide. Half-cut and polished, it shows the form of a butterfly wing and has been named the Butterfly of Condor (estimate: ˆ3,000-4,000).
A copper leaf measuring 1.8 meters in length and weighting 400 kilos will be one of the most interesting curiosities of the sale. Discovered in Michigan, this native copper was most likely created with hydrothermal energy in a wide range of temperatures, together with a precipitation due to iron oxides of igneous rocks. This important native copper is vertically-built and takes the shape of a work of modern art (estimate: ˆ30,000-35,000).
METEORS - Also known as shooting stars, meteors cross the atmosphere at 20km/s, and arrive blackened on the Earth’s surface. As meteoroids are heated during their passage through the atmosphere, their surfaces melt and experience ablation. They can be sculpted into various shapes during this process, cone or shield shaped. These stones are more important than glittering minerals. Some of them have been cut to the richness of a metal reflecting like a mirror.
Triceratops exhibition: from 5th March 2008. General Viewing: from 12th to 15th April 2008. Auction: 16th April 2008. Opening to the public: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. Christie’s – 9 avenue Matignon - 75008 Paris.